Traditionally, Chinese cuisine comes in 5 varieties.
Cantonese – The usual bland fare that consists of vegetables and rice served with more or less anything that can walk, swim, move, crawl, creep or slither. Consumed in unholy quantities by impoverished (read kanjapisnaari – miserly) desi students in the US for $3.99 in all-you-can-eat buffets at places usually named “King’s Bowl” or “Liu’s Restaurant”.
Szechuan – The brown, slightly spicy variety where ingredients float in a thick, viscous, gelatinous goo.
Hunan – Stomach wall invading mongolian hordes masquerading as food. Unlike the original Mongols, this will definitely breach the Great Wall of your stomach. Insanely hot.
Shanghai – They cook really nice food and then strangely add soy sauce and sugar to all dishes.
Indian – Standard desi fare with misspelled Chinese sounding names (Sweat and Sour soup, Choupusi and Lung Fung ) loaded with masala, cooked by Nepali or North-East types, and served out of broken down vans. A slight variation of this cuisine can also be found in God’s own country where remote outlying areas of China are simbly doused in monosodium glutamate and served with cauliflowers.
But today, I can confidently say that I went to a truly authentic Chinese restaurant. The Cascade, in Anna Nagar (There’s one in Nungambakkam as well). While the presence of painted green bamboos suggested an unmistakeably oriental ambience, the instrumental Abba music put me off a little bit. I was looking forward to strangely eerie pentatonic sounds emanating from a koto (like the one those incredibly cool blind assassins use in Kung-fu hustle). Anyway, the food was incredible. We ordered soup and it arrived in an oil tanker. Huge portions. If you plan to visit, here is the equation – for 4 people, order 1 dish. The herbivorous brigade need not worry as the menu offers plenty of foliage.
For the geographically challenged,
Ambience: 5/7 (2 marks cut for instrumental Abba)